SEXUAL ORIENTATION/ RELATIONS:
Tim Bennett overlooked the tank from the balcony, which held the strange creature from the sea. Inside the 'mermaid' swam about frantically, white arms tangled in her long silver hair, pale blue eyes wide in fright.
She wasn't quite a mermaid, since she had no fish tail. Indeed, she had every quality of a lovely human lady; shapely long legs, white skin, pale blue eyes, and silver hair. There were a few things that put her completely apart from most human ladies, however. That was the fact that she had puma-like ears, tail, and fangs.
A voice cut through his thoughts.
"Dr. Bennett, your brother will see you now." Jim nodded and walked down the hall to his brother's office. He knocked on the door.
"Come in," called his brother Jim. Tim opened the door and strolled into the room.
"Sit down," said Jack Monroe, another scientist, gesturing to a small chair in front his desk. Tim sat. "Now. Tell me all about this 'mermaid' of yours."
"Well," began Tim, "It all started the day the boys and I decided to go out in the boat to study marine wildlife. We had been floating on the gentle sea for about an hour, seeing nothing more interesting than krill and a couple of seals, not to mention...seaweed." Jim chuckled, and Tim continued his story.
"All of a sudden, I saw a flash of silver under the water. The others all mistook it for a fish, and being the savvy fishermen they were-" Tim paused sarcastically, "they grabbed it. A shriek pierced the air, and they almost dropped it, but I grabbed hold and tugged the thing aboard. At first I took it for a mermaid...but then I thought it was a lady, simply stranded in the ocean. Then I took a closer look. She had animal ears! A tail! Fangs! I knew that she had to be examined. So I put her in the net, and we brought her back here. She doesn't seem to speak any English. Instead she talks in a series of whistles, clicks, and squeaks."
Monroe thought for a moment, and then smiled, eyes narrowed.
"Have you done any tests on her yet?" he asked casually. Tim blinked and stuttered, not prepared for that question.
"Well, of course not! She--she just came in from the ocean. We aren't going to scare her anymore than she already is." Monroe smirked a little, and then pressed a button.
"Yes Mr. Monroe?"
"Please have the eel beast emptied into the sea creature's pool."
"Yes, right away, Mr. Monroe."
Tim and Jim stared at Monroe with a look of horror and rage.
"You can't do that to her! It might kill her!" Monroe shrugged.
"It will be in the name of science. We'll see what fighting techniques, or defense techniques she has, if any."
Tim stood up angrily and stalked out of the office, slamming the door behind him. Jim followed. They walked to the balcony and stared in apprehension at the pool of cold salt water below. The creature was floating listlessly on the water's surface, crying to itself. Suddenly a small hatch opened and the eel beast was shoved into the pool. The creature looked up, fear in her eyes, at the strange newcomer. Then she let out a shriek, and dove underwater, swimming swiftly to her little cave. She didn't make it in time. The eel beast was upon her, slashing open her white skin until blood filled the pool and stained her hair crimson. The creature thrashed helplessly, clawing and biting at the eel beast, to little avail. Somehow she managed to escape, with a jet of water that seemed to explode from her fingertips. For a moment she was held, suspended, an inch in the air, then splashed down, swimming frantically, with all her might, to the one place of safety. Every so often she'd blast a powerful water beam at the eel beast, but it only held it off for so long. She finally reached her cave, and dived inside, shivering uncontrollably. The eel beast darted its long neck into her home, hissing and snapping at her. She shrieked and clawed at its face, sending it back to the open water. Finally Tim couldn't stand it any more. He leapt off the balcony, Jim's shout ringing in his ears, into the salt-water pool. The eel beast turned, hearing the splash his body made. Tim rose from the water and yelled at the eel beast.
"Come and get me!" The eel beast complied, tail propelling it powerfully through the water. Tim made a fist and knocked the eel beast on the side of the head. The eel beast snarled and sank its teeth into his arm. Tim cried out in pain, and the creature looked out from her cave in alarm. She watched the strange human battle her enemy, the eel beast. She watched, horrified beyond belief, as Tim's arm was ripped off above the elbow. She sprang at the eel beast, and together, human and creature, they killed it. The creature swirled away underwater, closing her eyes against the salt and the blood that filled her pool. Tim threw the eel beast across the enclosure, and with help from the other men, climbed out of the pool and was driven to the nearest hospital.
Jim meanwhile, was inside Tim's office, looking at a piece of paper. On it was written:
Note to self-
Put a friend in with the sea creature. She seems lonely. Fire Jack Monroe. He's untrustworthy and mean. I fear he will harm the creature.
Jim walked out on the balcony and looked down. The glass ceiling above the creature's pool showed a blazing sunset, rich colors of purple, red and orange mixing. Silver stars came out, followed by a bright half moon. Inside the drained pool were workers, cleaning out the blood and disposing of the dead eel beast. Then fresh, cold sea water was poured into the pool, and the crying creature once again drifted, nearly lifeless from loss of blood and lack of freedom, around her cage.
Jim smiled, watching Monroe walk out of the building and drive away, never to be seen again in the world of science (hopefully). Then he walked to the edge of the sea creature's pool and watched as another creature was slid gently into the pool. This one was a sort of turquoise color, with melted gold for eyes, pointed ears, webbed fingers and toes, scaly skin, and a mop of white hair or fur on its head. It was male. They hoped that it could be a friend for the first creature, and named him Cerul. Perhaps later they would mate, and produce a whole new line of sea creatures.
Cerul glanced at his new surroundings, and made an inquisitive sound. The first creature, curious, peered out of her cave at the newcomer. Then she gave a cry of challenge. Cerul answered the cry, and in the next moment they were in the throes of battle.
Jim cried out in alarm as the two marine beasts fought, for they fought in a way no mortal had ever done. Blasts of energy, light and water and wind were directed at both creatures from the other, and claws and teeth as well. Finally Jim snapped out of his mesmerized state. He yelled for the workers. He could tell the two creatures were weakening, for their blasts and beams grew miniscule and less harmful, and they looked fatigued enough to die. The workers took Cerul out and loaded him onto a truck headed for Sea World, California. Jim later heard, with regret, that Cerul lasted only a week in captivity, and then he was given a proper burial in his homeland, the sea.
After that, Jim pretty much let the creature rest. Presently, the other scientists came to him, telling him that either they performed some experiments on the creature, or they returned her to the sea, because just watching her every day wasn't telling them anything. Jim agreed to some tests, but only if they weren't harmful.
Later he wished he hadn't. The scientists took him up to a separate balcony above the pool, with a tunnel leading down to it. They shoved Jim into it, despite his protests.
"Bon voyage!" they called, laughing, as he plummeted down the dark, twisting tunnel into the creature's pool.
Jim splashed into the water, spluttering with anger and surprise, and shook a fist at the scientists above him. "Let me out!" he yelled, splashing around in the cold water.
"It's all in the name of science, son! No hard feelings!" shouted the scientists, and they walked away, laughing to themselves.
Jim splashed around some more, before he noticed what the creature was doing. She was looking straight at him, wide pale eyes curious, and making a chirping, purring noise. Jim stared at her, and she blushed. She dabbled her fingers in the water, and splashed a little of it at him. He laughed softly in bewilderment, and splashed back. The creature swam up to him, stopping about two feet away. She reached out her elegant arm with long, tapered white fingers at the end and touched his nose lightly, giggling. She moved a little closer and breathed a word:
Jim's eyes widened as he realized that the creature was saying his name! The creature's soft, cold hand caressed his face, then tiptoed down his throat, across his shoulders and to his chest. She swirled a little circle with her fingertips on his chest and stared at him, eyes glowing, cheeks burning. A thought came to Jim, suddenly. It was courting him!
He took her hand in his, and said, firmly, "Jim," pointing to his self. The creature nodded slowly, then pointed at her self and squeaked ear piercingly. Jim threw his hands to his ears, and the creature drew back, abashed by his reaction. Jim winced and shook his head.
"What's your English name? Can you speak English at all?" The creature blinked a little sadly, throwing up her hands in exasperation.
"But you can understand it." She nodded her head excitedly. Jim sighed.
"I suppose I could teach you-" The creature squealed and threw herself upon him, nudging up under his chin, purring, chirping. Jim gently pushed her away, and smiled.
Jim taught her to speak English day by day, learning something new about her each hour, while she listened in rapt attention to his every word. At the end of a month, she could speak one word at a time, but she couldn't form sentences.
Jim was sleeping on the bank of her enclosure, dreaming fitfully about the fateful day of the eel beast. He moaned in his sleep. Suddenly he was awakened by a voice.
"Jeem! You--wak--noo." He sat up, recognizing the creature's voice.
"You're talking!" he exclaimed joyously. The creature nodded and chirped.
"Sleep-thoughts-bad?" He nodded, rubbing the back of his head. The creature looked down at the sand, playing with her long puma tail. Jim turned her face toward his.
"Can you tell me your name?" The creature's eyes widened, and she nodded.
"Can you tell me your story?" A nod. The creature began, stuttering slightly.
"Me born in sea, of sea, out of sea. The sea gave me name...Ucaramoeifruteileraktjessl." Jim blinked.
"It sang song, lullaby, to me..'jess, jess of the sea..' Me live happily in sea, gathering food me need. When me need rest from swimming, sea found me soft sand to sleep; when me wounded, animals of sea showed me how to heal. Me grew up like this, until brother, Teem, and men caught me." Jess shivered and wrapped her long arms around her pale form, hugging herself for warmth and comfort. "All--to tell."
Jim nodded and Jess slid into the water, leaving barely a ripple, her smooth, even strokes cutting through the pool effortlessly. Jim took off his shirt and followed her in a bumbling splash, struggling for a moment to stay above the surface. Jess blinked, a transparent eyelid going over her eyes, shielding them from the salty water. She then dived beneath the surface. Jim glanced around frantically, seeing no trace of the glimmering sea creature, come from the crystalline depths of the sea. Then there was a splash, and a head popped up out of the water, smiling shyly at him.
"Jeem scared me gone?" Jess grinned impishly, and swam circles around Jim.
"Yes, I was scared, Jess. I don't want to lose you. You are important."
Jess's eyes widened, as if she was surprised at how quickly he had responded to her "courting."
"Oh, no, that's not what I meant. What I meant was-" Jim stopped. Jess was almost all the way out of the water, bristling, hissing. Usually she looked almost human, but now she looked like an angry wildcat of the sea. Her icy blue eyes grew colder and narrowed.
"Me no...important? At all!" Jess shook her head, and slid back underwater, to her cave, large eyes expressing extreme sadness, glittering moistly.
"Jess! Come back! I didn't mean that! Oh, Jim. You've made a proper mess of this now. She'll never talk or trust you again. Still, why'd she go so loco?" Jim thought to himself aloud.
Jess didn't come out of her cave for a full day. While she was gone, Jim lay, half asleep, waiting for her to emerge. When she finally did, she looked as though she had gotten more sleep than he had.
"Jess, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. You are very important to me."
Jess brightened and yawned, then hugged him, wrapping her body around him like a boa constrictor. Jim, instead of pushing her off quickly, embraced her for a few moments, feeling the thin, fragile wet creature against his chest. Jess let go first, glancing up at Jim with a mingled look of curiosity, fear, and strangely, adoration.
The moment passed, and Jess pushed away, swimming toward her cave. She clambered on top of it, and swung her legs, humming and grinning impishly.
"Jeem, Jeem, Jeem of the sea!" she sang happily.